I have spent the better part of this morning and afternoon reading through the comments on this blog salon, and am thrilled at the amount of energy, excitement, and dialogue that this week’s online event has generated. This week alone, we’ve questioned the term “Emerging Leaders”, defined (or attempted to define) what Leadership is, and debated with ourselves whether we have had enough success to really qualify us to lead. On the other side, veteran leaders have told us to stop our whining, complaining, and discussing. We need to start doing our jobs, make ourselves and our communities matter, and start seeing the bigger picture. And – honestly, we need to hear that.

Right now, it seems like we are working in silos. We have silo’d our communities, our art forms (read John Steinmetz’s comment to Edward’s early post), our generations, and in turn – ourselves. The great thing about the 20UNDER40 Project is that it has generated so much discussion and some of these silos are beginning to break down. It’s clear from this weeks’ posts and comments that the arts field needs ALL of the ideas that we ALL bring to the table – the veterans and the emerging leaders. Collectively, we are only as strong as we are individually.

I believe veterans do have the responsibility to mentor and pass down knowledge to the next generation, and not cast generalizations that their younger colleagues are lazy and impatient. I also feel like a great supervisor listens to those around them, and truly values the opinion of their colleagues. On the other side, Generation X and Y should respect the positions of the veteran leaders above them, learn what they can, change what they can, and accept what they can’t change until it’s their turn to jump into the leadership position. This doesn’t mean Generation X and Y can’t be leaders.  (Check out the audio podcast interview I did with Ruby Classen to hear her advice on leading in your organization and community from entry – middle level positions).  It just means that sometimes, you have to wait your turn to affect all the changes.

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve personally learned from being a part of this conversation is that we can all become a leader when we allow ourselves to believe that we already are leaders. What positive action have you put in place in your community or organization? I bet you’ve done a lot, and there are probably many of you who when describing your best qualities, do not count “Leadership” as among them.

I encourage you to lead from where you are. Work with fellow young leaders and fellow veteran leaders within your community. Continue to be a part of this national network to harness your leadership and connect it to the larger goal of advancing the arts field in our country.

There is more to come next week on next steps that you can take beyond reading, participating in, and commenting on this blog salon. But if you have enjoyed keeping up with the posts from this week, add ARTSblog to your RSS Feed. We want to hear from you, and continue reading your comments.

Thank you to Edward Clapp, Eric Booth, and the 20UNDER40 Project for partnering with Americans for the Arts and helping to generate this important conversation. Thank you also to all of our fantastic guest bloggers.  Seriously, your posts rocked.

And to all our readers out there (and there are many of you!) – Thank you for spending a part of your week participating in our Blog Salon. Keep reading, writing, speaking, and LEADING.

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.